Watcher’s Council members and their friends are at it again, writing insightful, entertaining posts about the situation at home and abroad.
Discounting the bias built into Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary, it provides food for thought about the politics of war, hubris, and 20/20 hindsight.
Following Mr. Bookworm’s return from a business trip, we resumed watching Ken Burns’ documentary about the Vietnam War. We just finished Episode 4, which ends right before the Tet Offensive is to begin in early 1968.
All of my comments have to be understood in a specific context: I’ve never studied the war. I have childhood memories of watching Walter Cronkite discuss it on the nightly news; I remember hearing about it endlessly (always negatively) growing up; I have read about bits and pieces of it in some depth over the years, but never had a coherent history; and I am a student of history, so I have some perspective on war in general.
Here are my thoughts, in no particular order. As always, I would love to hear from those of you who are also watching; who have knowledge about the war, whether first hand or academic; or who just want to chime in on the subject. Also as always, my only request is that any comments be phrased in a civil way (something everyone has been doing so far).
1. I think Burns is trying to be even-handed. However, I feel there are a couple of missing points of view in terms of those he interviews who experienced the war and their absence is telling.
The Americans who talk about the war are those who were always opposed to the war or those who came to be opposed to the war. All of those interviewed feel that America shouldn’t have fought the war at all. It seems to me that we also ought to hear from people, and I know they exist, who will argue that it was a good war, although carried out stupidly, or that it was a good war and, at least once Nixon started fighting it in dead earnest, one we actually won. Those people have not been interviewed and I don’t anticipate seeing them show up any time soon.
The Vietnamese who talk about the war also represent two points of view, and two only: North Vietnamese who speak as victors; and South Vietnamese who talk about their corrupt government and about American failures. There are no voices talking about the horrors of communism, either in North Vietnam during the war or about all of Vietnam after the war. (And yes, I know we’re still at the end of 1967 in the show’s chronology, but the Americans interviewed certainly have been using 20/20 hindsight to castigate the war, so I don’t see why Vietnamese interviewees can’t do that to castigate the communists.)
Periodically Burns hints at communist tyranny and atrocities, but these quickly fade away. There are no photos and no personal narratives.
The history of the Vietnam War is incomplete without those missing voices. [Read more…]
A portmanteau post addressing Antifa, Puerto Rico and Mayor Cruz, and the problem of minorities who try to bend society to their will.
The items in this post bear no relationship to each other, unless you want to say that the first demonstrates how to undermine a civilized, pluralist society, while the second shows how a minority within that society is supposed to balance benefits and burdens. Oh, and there’ll be a detour into Puerto Rico. Still, as I have other things to do, this post is a little bit jumbled.
The first thing I want to bring to your attention is Steve Crowder’s video about going undercover with Antifa in Utah. The two take-aways are (1) that Antifa people are weird losers who get excited by violence and bloodshed and (2) that the media does not want to know about Antifa. It doesn’t fit the narrative and the media is about nothing but narrative:
Speaking of narrative, I’m going to slip one more thing in here, which is the media’s burgeoning narrative that the devastation in Puerto Rico is Trump’s fault for failing to react quickly. In fact, there’s every indication that Trump had FEMA and the military ready to roll. The problem seems to be that Puerto Rico, which is Democrat-governed, has no infrastructure. It also kicked the Navy out a couple of decades ago, meaning (a) that there’s no embedded Navy in place to help and (b) that it kissed good-bye the hundreds of millions that the Navy would have contributed to the economy. [Read more…]
Progressives again show their retreat from reality, this time with a t-shirt claiming MAGA supporters, whose candidate and agenda won, are “losers.”
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump had promised “We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning.” The MAGA team believed him and he turned the electoral map red everywhere except in coastal areas and large urban enclaves.
True to Trump’s promise, while his administration has made some errors (President Trump should have fired Comey and indicted Hillary on January 22), there’s also been a whole lot of winning. Here’s a partial list:
- Justice Gorsuch is a win.
- The roster of conservative judges President Trump is nominating to the federal court system is an ongoing win.
- Withdrawing from the Paris Accord was a win.
- The speech President Trump made at the UN, defining and defending American sovereignty was a win.
- The ongoing effort to shrink the administrative state is a win.
- Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, and Ryan Zinke are wins.
- The booming stock market is a win.
- The slowly expanding economy is a win.
- The Trump administration’s ability to block terror exporting nations from sending people to America is a win.
- ICE’s stepped-up actions and the diminution in the flow of illegal aliens to the US are ongoing wins.
I don’t think any of the MAGA crowd are bored yet with this winning. They’re counting on more. The reality is that, with Trump slowly but steadily dismantling the Obama state, his MAGA supporters are very pleased. Moreover, as the guys at Power Line show (especially Paul Mirengoff), even those who did not vote for Trump, and are not true MAGA-ites, are pleased. It’s been a delight to watch the more reasonable NeverTrumpers come around.
It’s also been pretty darn pleasing watching the new converts talk to those who have walled themselves off in NeverTrump Land (a cold, dank, hopeless, ugly place). What they’re saying is that the obdurate NeverTrumpers have become intellectually dishonest and are making themselves pariahs to all thinking conservatives.
With all this MAGA winning in mind, how in the world does one explain this t-shirt? [Read more…]
The underlying thread in most of the following posters is that Stupid Leftists are having way too much of a say in politics and culture.
South Park tackles an appropriate response for people who discover that, at the DNA level, they’re not as Caucasian as they thought they were.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian, takes the floor at the UN to tell tyrants that their support for Palestinian “leadership” betrays the people.
I don’t have anything to add. Just watch this amazing video:
Given a vexing, dangerous, and complicated problem like North Korea, Progressives reduce the issue to school-boy sniggering about sexual prowess.
One of the things that distinguishes Progressives from Conservatives is that the former are certain that they’re very smart. For example, they point out that wealthy Blue enclaves have a disproportionate number of America’s college graduates. This argument erroneously conflates intelligence with a college degree, something that has some virtue on the STEM side of college but is laughable when it comes to the liberal arts.
The same argument also erroneously conflates academic prowess (which is a form of intelligence) with wisdom or ethical sense. In the face of that argument, I always like to point out that Radovan Karadžić was a psychiatrist. That didn’t stop his genocidal mania.
Progressives also like to boast that all sorts of scientific studies show that they’re smarter than Conservatives. They haven’t quite grasped, of course, that social science studies are never really scientific because objectivity is impossible and biases seem inevitable.
You probably remember that a much-lauded study proclaiming that conservatives are psychotic had to be retracted entirely because the study’s results were reversed. In fact, it was the Progressives who showed more psychotic traits.
That’s not the only purportedly scientific study slamming conservatives. Universities routinely churn out studies showing that Conservatives are stupid, ill-informed, evil creatures. Lost in this self-defined world, they’re shocked when reputable polls show that Conservatives are actually more knowledgeable than Progressives.
Progressives also struggle to understand complaints that their methodology shows bias. It didn’t seem to occur to them that, if you prepare a study examining whether children in religious or atheist households are more moral or generous, you’re going to get skewed results if all your metrics are about Progressive ethics (morality is shown by being open to transgenderism) instead of being about Conservative ethics (personal generosity to the poor). [Read more…]
With Progressives fighting for cultural ascendance, we are entering an ideological Twilight Zone that’s bad for America, but really great for a blogger.
Hold onto your hats, my friends, because this is going to be a huge collection of all things interesting, mostly relating to the madness emanating from today’s Progressives. I’ve been compiling posts all day and I’ve finally bestirred myself to stop collecting and start writing.
Before I dive into my material, though, my friend Wolf Howling sent me an amusing email replete with wonderful links, mostly about those crazy Progressives:
The latest in grievance theater from the dumber than dirt: “Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee kneeled during a speech on the House floor Monday . . . ” as she accused Trump of racism. Of course, she has competition. Take a knee against white supremacy, Dr. Gu. Of course, Paul Joseph Watson hits the right notes:
In what can only be described as a headline for our time: “Far-right lesbian mother of two AGAINST gay marriage is set to take on Angela Merkel after triumph in German elections.”
From Annenberg Public Policy, Only a quarter of Americans surveyed could name the three branches of government. Idiocracy was supposed to be a movie, not prophecy. That said, I am coming to believe that this is not a failure of education, but a goal of substituting social justice, white privilege and white supremacy for civics in k-12.
Instapundit’s latest at USA Today echoes what Bookworm has been saying for years about her Marin neighbors: They get ahead by practicing bourgeois values, but then defend to the death dysfunctional cultures as their equal.
Well, it’s probably cheaper and easier to eat your Tinder date as the barbecue than to take your Tinder date to a barbecue.
Kim Jong Un take note: The Dummies’ Guide to Creating A Fusion Bomb. If only a single fission bomb wasn’t enough to generate a catastrophic electro-magnetic pulse.
The proggies don’t embrace science, they manipulate it. ‘A British University has blocked an academic studying a reported surge in people regretting transgender surgery, claiming a “social media” backlash to the “politically incorrect” research could harm the institution . . .”
Ann Althouse makes a point about experts — in our Founding and in Climate Change. It’s fascinating that the academic in question who rightly stated the facts on a truly arcane point of American history is an academic in Ireland. If you want to find a true student of your nation’s history, seek out a foreigner.
And now to my finds:
Progressives are never responsible. I used to date a man who would periodically lob offensive comments my way. I’d answer back, he’d respond, and before you know it, we were fighting. He told me that all of the fights were my fault. His theory was that, just because he pitched, I didn’t need to swing. In his world, you either agreed with his offensive comment or you offensively started a fight. I thought of that when I read Dennis Prager on the NFL spat:
Apparently, the question, “Who started it?” means nothing to the journalists, politicians and NFL players, coaches and owners who call the president “divisive.”
So, before discussing Trump’s reaction, our fellow Americans on the left need to answer some pretty simple questions: Has the behavior of those athletes has been divisive? Is kneeling while tens of thousands of people are standing divisive? Is publicly showing contempt for the American flag for which innumerable Americans risked their lives, were terribly injured, or died divisive?
The answers are so obvious that if someone denies that those actions are divisive, it inevitably raises another question:
Why would anyone deny it?
Progressives identify the wrong slave masters. One of the things my German father loathed about American football was the stench of the slave auction that hung about it. By the 1970s, no home team really had home team players. Instead, the “home” team was composed of people (as often as not black people) who were bid for at auction and then traded all over the country. Sure, one can say that the players get big salaries in exchange for this indignity, but that merely makes them analogous to house slaves, rather than field slaves.
And who are the slave masters in this human trade? The NFL owners, of course.
Just as food allergies create a sickness in the body, the NFL creates a sickness in the soul. Taking both out of your life will make you much happier.
Those who have developed food allergies know what it feels like. You have some food you particularly like, and have been enjoying for years. Lately, though, you’ve been noticing that, while that food makes your mouth happy, it makes the rest of you unhappy.
For a while, you’re in denial. “I probably had a stomach flu.” “It was just a bad batch.” “It’s a coincidence.” Those of you with allergies know precisely what I mean.
Then one day, it dawns on you that every single time you eat that food, you feel horribly sick. The pleasure in your mouth is completely overwhelmed by the sheer misery that follows. So, finally, you stop.
Having stopped, you miss the food you once enjoyed but — oh Lord! — it’s wonderful not to be ill all the time. It’s great to be in control of your life again.
And you know what? Eventually, when you see that food on your plate, rather than experiencing longing, you feel revulsion. It may look good, and you have good memories, but that food is so gosh darn bad for you it’s a relief not to have it in your life anymore. That’s the moment you truly stop missing the food and realize that your life is much, much better without it.
For those of you who have been lifelong football fans, I bet you’re experiencing the same thing. You’ve put up the game for years as commercials got longer, Super Bowl half times got more vulgar, players got traded like slaves in a gilded marketplace, salaries escalated, and the criminal convictions ratcheted up. [Read more…]
The Leftists and Donald Trump are using the NFL anthem and flag kerfuffle as a means to their own ends, but it is clarifying and it makes for good posters.
The media is using the NFL football kerfuffle is a distraction from more important issues, such as storm damage in Puerto Rico, none of which can be blamed on Trump, while Don Surber suggests that Donald Trump is using it as a distraction from John McCain’s betrayal of American voters. All I can say is that kerfuffles such as this are gold mines for illustrated editions. This edition, therefore, is mostly NFL, with a few other things thrown in for fun.
Before getting to the meat of the matter, let me restate my own position: The NFL as an institute, as well as its individual players, are free to say and do as they wish without government interference. The President, who also has First Amendment rights, is also free to speak his mind, provided that he doesn’t use the instruments of government to silence either the NFL or the players. And, in a free society, the American people are welcome to look at the NFL’s values and to vote with their feet regarding those values. This is how freedom works — if you’re the NFL and the players, you makes your speech and you takes your chances.
You and I, people who pay attention to facts, know that Israel does not discriminate. This is a polite, helpful video for the fact-challenged.
Illustrations about free speech: NFL owners and players are free to disrespect flag and country — and Americans are free to vote with their wallets.
If the NFL wants to let its employees use their unique bully pulpit to take a knee when the flag flies and the national anthem players, even while barring other players from honoring police officers who died on duty, that is the NFL’s right. And if millions of Americans decide that there’s more to life than seeing extremely well-paid men whine . . . well, that’s their right too. That’s how free speech is supposed to operate, with people speaking out and accepting how the marketplace metes out non-violent consequences that flow from their words.
A couple of things before I get to the images:
First, it was the Obama administration that heavily funded the NFL being overtly patriotic:
There’s something incredibly cynical about being paid to be patriotic and even more cynical about the NFL’s scrapping that patriotism with the end of Obama’s presidency.
Second, employers make speech rules all the time. Believe me, if I, as a young lawyer, had stood up in court and told the judge what I really thought (usually some variation of “you’re an idiot”), not only would I have been held in contempt, I would have been fired. On my own time, though, provided that I did not embarrass the law firm, I was free to exercise my First Amendment rights.
Regarding that freedom to speak when off the job, it’s the Leftists who fire people for pretty damn mainstream after-hours opinions, as they did to Brendan Eich. This programming genius, who was a prime mover behind Firefox, privately gave of his own money to help support traditional marriage and got fired for doing so.
Third, being president of the United States does not mean that one no longer has First Amendment rights. While President Trump cannot mandate that NFL players be fired, as that would be unconstitutional, not to mention tyrannical, he is perfectly within his rights as a citizen to say that, in his opinion, they should be fired.
Trump is also within his rights to play the NFL, both owners and players, like a cheap violin. He knew that his statement that the NFL should fire those “sons of bitches” who disrespect the flag and the national anthem would result in today’s rash of player and owner insults to the flag and, by extension, to ordinary Americans.
As best as I can tell, with the NFL getting attacked from the Left because of the game’s inherent violence and the damage flowing from it, and from the Right, because of the player’s whiny disrespect, it’s entirely questionable whether, a few years from now, the NFL will be a “thing” anymore.
Herewith, some images about the NFL today, both the good and the stupid:
Leftists’ elevating theory over facts destroys everything, whether climate issues or, as now know (and are thankful for), Hillary’s political campaign.
Do you remember the old Rodney Dangerfield movie, Back To School? Dangerfield plays a self-made industrialist millionaire who follows his son to a fancy Ivy League school. Some of the movie’s best humor comes from the culture clash between the real (or “normal” as Kurt Schlichter would say) Dangerfield and the poncy, disconnected professor who lives in a world of theory, unrelated to facts.
In the pivotal culture class scene, Dangerfield schools a business professor who prefers to deal in widgets rather than facts and, indeed, who thinks that his theories are the equivalent of facts: